Getting out of a dark shadow.
That time has rolled around again where the planet gets to experience 2 weeks of an entire world of sport. Everything from swimming and track to gymnastics, soccor, handball, and judo with everything in between. One of the older sports that has been on the docket since the early days of the modern Olympics is boxing.
Much like hockey in the winter, I really only follow boxing this closely when it’s time for the games. Maybe since I’m a fan of tournaments but every 4 years since the 2004 games in Greece I’ve followed along with every weight class and every fight until all the medals have been given out. It may not be the headliner that swimming, track, or gymnastics gets, but I enjoy it.
However something that has been hanging over the sport has been it’s credibility. It started back in 1988 when Roy Jones Jr, lost in the gold medal match against a home country South Korean fighter on a dubious decision at best. From there steps were taken to try and “improve” the scoring at the Olympics. Out were score cards and marks awarded in performance and effort and in was computer controllers and punch totals. The new rules were 3 judges would push a bottom if a fighter scored a legal hits to a “scoring zone” on the chest or headgear. If two of the three judges pressed the button that a fighter scored a point. The judging would remain largely anonymous. The idea being that it would eliminated the corruption in the scoring and the right people would win.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
What occurred were weird anomalies on the scoring. Fighter’s landing punch after punch with no score, points being awarded when there was no hits being made, and obviously biased referees taking points away from fighters for flimsy reasons. Instances of fighters scoring points while sitting on the canvas, knockdown’s not being counted and scores going to fighters who had been sent to the mat 4 times or more during the fight, it cheated fights, fans, and countries with bogus results to undeserving winners.
But this year that all finally changed. It a ruling that was made before the last Olympic games four years ago, the controllers were gone. It was a 10 point must system from five ringside judges who would have three of their scorecards randomly selected and count in fight scoring. “scoring zones” were eliminated and in the case of the men, the headgear was eliminated all together.
And it seems to have worked!
While some of the bouts so far have been very lop sided, it was because of skill and experience instead of a point score from a bunch of button mashers. Sure, the crowds might not always agree with the winners, especially in the closer fought bouts, things seem to largely on the up and up for both the men’s and now the women’s boxing contests as well.
Is it perfect? No, of course not. A point that has been brought up is that the men don’t wear headgear anymore, but that the women still do. More menacingly, and Irish fighter just earlier today accused the whole governing body of being corrupt after he lost a close match that many in the crowd think he won. Whether he legit believes that or if it is just sour grapes from someone who narrowly lost his bout, I’m not sure. We may never know if there was something to his gripes or not.
Another change this year is something that really didn’t have the effect that the IOC and AIBA wanted and that for the first time, pro boxers were allowed to come back and fight at the Olympic level to represent their country and get a chance to win a medal. Ultimately very few people went for it and those that did didn’t last very long in the competition. Honestly with the amount of money pro boxers make, I don’t blame them for not wanted to get their heads bashed in and do it for free, not to mention in a best case scenario you have to fight more times in a 2 weeks than many big time fighters do in a year. No real incentive huh?
So while there are still some tweaks to be made, this was a major step in the right direction in trying to clean things up and moved past the neven and corrupt system that has been a black sot n the Olympic movement for so long.
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